The interior of BC now has four new and two returning Members of Parliament, one with the incoming government, three with the official opposition and the two remaining with the third party (as it is frequently referred to within the House of Commons). In some situations the electoral boundaries between these different Members of Parliament may be geographically well defined but may not be convenient for citizens due to different MP office locations or how the electoral boundaries commission arbitrarily applied riding borders that may have separated closely linked communities. These situations often create a challenge for citizens to decide which Member of Parliament they should contact for assistance in the event the Member of Parliament who is closest and most convenient, may in fact be representing a different electoral region.
Wherever possible citizens should contact the Member of Parliament who represents the electoral region they reside in. The reason for this is that Members of Parliament have unique legislated rights and protections under various acts of Parliament to represent citizens specifically located within their electoral region. In addition, Members of Parliament are provided with generous resources to assist citizens, even those in remote areas of a riding. On the same theme citizens also have a right to contact Members of Parliament from other electoral regions for assistance that may or may not be provided depending upon the circumstances and the discretion of the MP in question. From my own experience it is common for MPs from other parties and or regions to refer citizens to their own MP as this respects the intent of Canada’s single-member, simple-plurality voting system.
From my perspective as the Member of Parliament for Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola, my office will continue to assist citizens to the best of our ability and will also look forward to working with other MPs in our region regardless of party affiliation. Ultimately assisting citizens remains my top priority and I expect our newly elected Members of Parliament will also share this sentiment as they work towards opening up new constituency offices as soon as is reasonably possible.
Unfortunately there is little news to share from Ottawa at the moment as the transition period will be under way for many weeks and it is still unclear when the House of Commons will be recalled by the new Government, once in place. Next week will likely be more active as it is expected a new cabinet will be announced and potentially a date will also be revealed on when the House of Commons will resume. Normally in a non-election year the House would have sat for five weeks at this point with another five weeks schedule prior to the end of the year.
On a closing note I would like to thank the many citizens who have taken the time to share your thoughts and comments with me over the past ten days. The volume of feedback has been significant and is greatly appreciated. I welcome your input and can be reached via email at Dan.Albas@parl.gc.ca or toll free at 1-800-665-8711.
In a little over three week’s time Canadians will gather on the 11th day of the 11 month at the 11th hour to honour those brave Canadians who made the supreme sacrifice in defence of freedom and democracy. On October the 19th it was encouraging to see one of the largest electoral turnouts in over two decades as Canadians attended the polls and advanced polls in large numbers for our nations 42nd general election. Locally in our new riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola our voter turnout of 71.8% was even higher than the national average of 68.5%. I believe this can be attributed to the fact that we had some very good candidates representing our national political parties who all ran very robust and honourable campaigns. It is also fair to say that increased turnout was reflected as a result that voters wanted a change. A change in Government and also a change in official opposition.
While some will be happy with the election results and others disappointed I think we can all agree it is exciting to live in a free and democratic country where citizens can come out and vote for change. It is also incumbent upon elected officials to hear and respect the message sent from voters. As the newly elected Member of Parliament it is a great honour to represent this region in Ottawa and I would like to sincerely thank citizens for their support and also the other candidates who ran campaigns that talked about the issues and how we can best build stronger communities in this riding. I would be remiss if I also did not point out that a majority of citizens in this riding voted for other candidates. Ironically my share of the vote at 39.5% was identical to the share of the Liberals who formed a majority government also with a 39.5% share of the vote that was similar to the 39.6% majority of the Conservative government in 2011. One of the many promises of the incoming Liberal Government is to implement electoral reform, a topic that I welcome your views on.
From an Ottawa perspective there will now be many hectic weeks during the transition period as the new Government must logistically move into place, staff must be hired and other arrangements made not unlike what will occur with many newly elected Members of Parliament, including here in the Okanagan. On that note I would like to take a moment to sincerely thank our local departing MP Ron Cannan for his many years of service to our region. Ron worked tirelessly on behalf of the entire Okanagan region and his representation was always honourable and positive.
Currently the new Government has not yet set a date when Parliament will be recalled although the new cabinet is expected to be announced in early November. As a member of the official opposition I am looking forward to the opportunity of holding the new government to account on your behalf and continuing to bring your concerns to Ottawa. Citizens deserve to be heard and my commitment to work on your behalf begins today. I welcome your comments, questions and concerns and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-800-665-8711.
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Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola.